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United States tariffs to stay on Turkey, Qatar offers Ankara aid

United States tariffs to stay on Turkey, Qatar offers Ankara aid

Relations between Turkey and the USA are at a nadir over the detention of Andrew Brunson, an American pastor that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government accuses of being involved in an attempted coup in 2016.

Turkey, meanwhile, is frustrated by the refusal of the U.S.to extradite a Pennsylvania-based Muslim cleric accused by Turkish authorities of engineering a 2016 coup attempt.

On Thursday, Trump said Turkey had "taken advantage of the United States for many years" and referred to Brunson as a "great patriot" who was being held "hostage". "The Europeans will maintain the existing objections to certain Erdogan policies and continue to voice their concerns, but that won't stop them from developing pragmatic cooperation with Turkey", he said.

Iran has been furious over US President Donald Trump's decision to pull out of an worldwide agreement on Iran's nuclear program and re-impose sanctions on Tehran.

"Turkey did not and will not surrender to those which try to make Turkey as a strategic target", he said in reference to the USA without naming the country.

The White House called the Turkish response a step in the wrong direction and signalled a hard line on Brunson's release.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan told thousands of supporters in Ankara that the country was being "threatened by the economy, sanctions, foreign currency, interest rates and inflation". Erdogan has in turn slapped sanctions on USA goods. It upheld a lower court's decision against the lifting of a travel ban on Brunson.

Also Friday, Turkey's trade minister said her government would respond in kind to any new trade duties from the United States after U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin said the U.S. could put more sanctions on Turkey if the pastor is not released soon.

Turkey retaliated with 533 million dollars (£419 million) of tariffs on some USA imports - including cars, tobacco and alcoholic drinks - and said it would boycott United States electronic goods. "Would the amount of Turkey's debts decrease?"

An important emerging market, Turkey borders Iran, Iraq and Syria and has been mostly pro-Western for decades.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has bristled at such US pressure. However, much of the ill will shared by Turkey and the US stems not only from the back-and-forth on tariffs, but also from a diplomatic dust-up centered on two men of "faith".

The rising tensions have caused the value of the lira to plunge by about a third of its value against the dollar since January.

Turkey's currency remains steady against the dollar despite an apparent threat of possible new sanctions by U.S. President Donald Trump. He criticized Turkey for "holding our wonderful Christian Pastor".

Evangelical pastor Andrew Craig Brunson faces up to 35 years in jail if convicted of espionage and terror-related charges.

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